Verdicts from various California Courts, and settlements between the employee and employer, illustrate the risk of retaliation liability and retaliation claims that arises in the wake of employee complaints about mistreatment. Even in cases where employers prove that a discrimination, harassment or other employment claim lacks merit, the employers may still be found liable because the complainant suffered adverse employment consequences after complaining.
A review of recent jury verdicts and settlements from workplace retaliation cases clearly demonstrate that an employee who files a complaint in good faith (even if it turns out to be unfounded) is protected from retaliation.
Sample Retaliation Verdicts
Jury verdict of $4.6M against a real estate firm for firing its general manager in a California facility after she reported break and overtime violations.
Jury awards $800,000 plus attorney fees to a correctional officer claimed to have been discriminated against and harassed because of her sexual orientation and disability. She also alleged that her supervisors retaliated against her for complaining about their actions. The jury decided that the supervisors had not engaged in unlawful harassment or discrimination, but awarded the officer $800,000 on the retaliation claim for emotional distress damages.
Jury verdict of over $800,000 awarded to two sales persons who alleged that they had complained to their employer about various wage and hour practices, and were terminated as a result. They recovered a combined verdict of over $800,000.
$1.6M verdict in favor of an employee who complained of inappropriate behavior by his supervisor regarding the treatment of women, including being induced to attend strip bars and being subjected to inappropriate sexual comments about female employees. Plaintiff complained to upper management, and shortly thereafter was denied a promotion and ultimately terminated.
Sample Retaliation Settlements
$600,000 settlement for a race and national origin discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuit involving one of the company's top performers who was terminated for “poor performance” after reporting discrimination and harassment.
$500,000 settlement for wrongful discharge and retaliation of a male energy company employee. The male employee protested the sexual harassment of his female co-workers by his supervisors. The male employee was reinstated to his job in addition to receiving the financial award.
Nearly $1M settlement against a local Sheriff's Department for violating an employee's freedom of speech rights and retaliating against him for his support of an upcoming Sheriff's election candidate.
$587,500 settlement in a medical leave, disability and retaliation claim. An employee who was injured at work required a medical leave and temporary light duty reassignment during recovery. The employer failed to provide light duty, refused to permit the employee to take medical leave and retaliated against the employee for filing a workers' compensation claim by terminating employment.
All employment laws prohibit employers from taking adverse employment action against employees for engaging in protected activity. Protected activity includes complaining about or opposing practices forbidden by the statutes and participating in investigations of prohibited conduct. Adverse employment action includes termination, failure to promote, punitive transfers and other actions that have a material impact on the terms and conditions of employment. While the sample verdicts and settlements above may not represent typical outcomes, only an experienced employment lawyer can appropriately evaluate your case.
The lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley can help you recover any economic loss, damages for the emotional distress from experiencing retaliation, punitive damages (if the retaliation was egregious), and, under most employment statutes, attorneys fees. Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your case by calling us toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or clicking here to contact us.